Posted by Chris Martin 16 March 2015
How Google won MWC 2015 with tiny Android pins
Just a couple of weeks ago MWC 2015 took place in Barcelona and this is the story of how Google stole the show with a simple but extremely effective PR stunt.
As we do every year, we packed our bags and set off for sunny (warmer than the UK) Spain to look at all the new smartphones, tablets, wearables and other gadgets on offer. Around 85,000 head to the Fira Gran Via for eight halls worth of shiny new things.
The week started off as per usual with me and my colleague, Ashleigh, wondering round the show getting our hands on products, taking photos and videos of them to post on the web site. As we were leaving the Acer stand someone handed us a small packet each containing a tiny pin badge which we thought was quite cool but we simply put it away and thought nothing of it.
However, the next day at the show we realised it more much more than a little giveaway which Acer had decided to do. That badge we were handed was in fact one of 124 available to collect at the show – each a different character with a name from the firm's current 'be together. not the same' campaign. We suddenly felt like young teenagers again in a sort of Pokémon 'gotta catch them all' type way.
Google has many partners at MWC showing off various devices running Android and it put something in place which changed the show entirely. Each of Google's partners was given a 2ft high Android statue to display – which reportedly cost $10,000 each although that's hard to believe – and each day those stands had exclusive Android pin badges to give away. Google has done pins before but not on this scale – a total of 200,000 were given out.
A handy map being handed out showed you what stands had the pins and which one they might give you. There were also two outside Android stands and Google staff walking around the show with satchels full of the pins who would gladly hand out any you hadn't collected, plus a candy lollipop - to match the name of the most recent version of Android.
It really changed the feel of the entire show and saw all kinds of people running around trying to get new pins - from PR women to business men in full suits. It was quite the spectacle. Even people back at the office were asking us to bring some back for them.
Some pins were harder to come by than others and Google had even set up a site where you could tick off which ones you had collected and trade duplicates with others at the show. There were many we wanted but just couldn't find and didn't realistically have the time to. Since returning from the show we discovered the most hard to find pins was found by locating a particular Googler and making sure you were wearing pins (most lined their lanyards with them) and he would give you a simple Android holding a lollipop.
We quickly realised we wouldn't be able to collect them all but did our best. Handily the stands we needed to visit were mostly ones handing out pins but some which were even listed on the special map seemed to have no idea about it – namely IBM and Nokia.
In the end we managed around a third of the 124 goal and we didn't particularly mind as is just made the show for us and for many others. I'm sure there will be copycat attempts at future shows but it won't be the same as MWC 2015.